Climbing Middle Cathedral East Buttress

One of the longest and more impressive moderate climb in the Yosemite valley, part of the top 50 North American classics, Middle Cathedral East Buttress. After some continuous training and successful Royal Arches, and 5.7–5.9 multi pitches in the Valley and Tahoe, we went for it.

High level topo from Mountain Project

In May the days are already pretty long, and temperatures in a sweet spot, not too cold (it snowed the week before), not too hot (grilling temperature the week after).

After parking at the same spot for Central Pillar of Frenzy, we took the good approach trail (mistakenly taken the previous time). Steep but easy and well maintained. We arrived at the official modern start of the climb, on a sweet ledge overlooking the magnificent El Capitan.

The start of the climb with El Capitan in the background

Only 1 party of 2 in front of us, 1 of 3 behind us, all friendly. It is typical to link the first 2 pitches 2 by 2 until the bold ladder choice. Easy 5.6 even if also easy to go off route, then a legit roof until a belay station in a tree.

Then some more serious lie back/stemming, and a true 5.8 lie back, with even more lie back (easier) and face/flakes. This section is long, sustained, and pure climbing.

Then we went for the bolt ladder, 5.10c but those tiny fragments of old and no feet, super hard and we resolute to pull on the bolt. There is then an exposed traverse and a pretty cruxy 5.9 roof, before some easy 5.6 on large flakes (exposed but fun) until 2 bolts.

Hard climbing on tiny edges before an impressive traverse and roof

Ensure Follows some slabs, with a 5.8 move protected via a bolt, and not much gear to put at all.

After the bolt ladder, some slab

Then we have some 5.7 stemming/lie back, not that difficult, until a piton past a left traverse.

There is some kind of flaring wide crack, with some real 5.8, slightly awkward (possibility to get some feet outside), pretty unique.

Nicely exposed crack

Then there are the last 2 pitches, moderate 5.6 / 5.7, which I roped stretched by mistake, until a piton (belayed from there) before a left traverse to an amazing finger size crack to the top!

Unbeatable view!

Then a bit of traversing, a big tree for belaying and bit more down climbing until some bolts, start of a 10-rappel descent!

2 more to go to the ground!

Great conditions, friendly parties, unbeatable Valley scenery (or by El Cap or Higher Cathedral Spires?), 10 pitches and a great execution made it a top 5 favorite climb that makes you see the world differently afterwards!

After a champagne, the next day we did Super Slide, really sweet moderate crack 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, but which can get quite busy and traffic jamming at the descend (sharing the same anchors) with a stuck rope in bonus!

Super Slide 2/3 on the way up



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store